My stomach says “STOP!”

Lips and Tongue GraphicSeriously. My stomach is screaming out in protest. I’ve been eating out the past few weeks far more often than I care to admit, and though my choices weren’t the worst, they definitely were not the best. Combine poor eating with loads of stress, and it has left my poor tummy feeling like someone has reached in and braided my intestines, deflated my stomach and drained my liver and kidneys of life-sustaining water. I. am. hurting.

I find it quite disturbing that I have to hit rock bottom to turn things around. It’s no secret that eating a diet filled with fresh fruits and veggies, fresh eggs, raw nuts, whole grains like quinoa & brown rice and organically fed chicken and small amounts of beef can keep a person healthy. Like, duh. So why do I sabotage myself? Why do I eat wheat when I know I’ll be crying out about it later? Why do I drink more than one glass of wine more than twice a week? (I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I can drain a bottle of Vino Verde and then look at the empty container wondering how that happened…?)

It’s not as if it’s hard to cook well. Really,  scrambling up an egg and stir-frying some eggplant will do wonders for my energy level and digestive system. It’s not difficult. Pinterest is chock full of Paleo, vegetarian and healthy meals that activate my taste buds to the point where I’m having to clorox wipe the drool off my keyboard. I think my problem isn’t that I can’t cook. I think my problem is that I’m not an organized cook.

Therein lies the rub. I’m not an organized cook. I have, thus far, failed in planning my meals and therefore find lunch time, dinner time and snack times to be miserable, blank-stare generating experiences that makes me want to run to Panda Express. or Kerby Lane. Or P. Terry’s. Or BurgerFi. (but I digress…)

My question to you, dear readers, is one of organization. Do you spend Sundays planning your meals? Do you have a schedule, a method to your meal madness? Please share below. I’m interested in hearing what works for you.

For now, though, I feel so horrible that I must change things immediately. When I start to feel good again, I must not go back to the way I was. And that’s always the hardest part, right?

5 Reasons to Go Ahead and Join a Gym

metal dumbell

Greetings, my friends! Hello, Hello! I’ve been faithfully working out (barring one dark, wine-filled, chocolate filled week) all summer long. I’ve spent the time collecting workouts on my Pinterest board (follow it here: http://pinterest.com/freshcutdesign/circuit-training-workouts/), subscribing to workout channels on YouTube and doing various free workout apps on my iPad. I’ve learned a lot on this journey and am so. so. excited about sharing with you! Topping the list of discoveries is that working out at home is not for everyone.

Here’s why you may want to bite the bullet and join a gym, hire a personal trainer or join a boot camp or fitness training group:

  1. You’ve never worked out a day in your life. Okay, that may be a gross exaggeration, but if it has been many moons since you’ve picked up a dumbbell, then you need the guidance of someone who can make sure you are doing the exercises properly. All it takes is one over-rotation of the shoulder, and you’ve torn your rotator cuff. And that’s very, very bad.
  2. You are very heavy and have a lot to lose. Here’s the deali-o. The workout videos and apps I’ve been doing all assume that you are 1) in your 20′s and a fresh-faced freshman in college 2) are moderately fit 3) you have a good working knowledge of the exercises and anatomy. It can be a serious de-motivator watching these PYT’s (pretty young things, for all you non-Michael Jackson people) get their groove on when you are simply trying to keep up. Also, many of these videos do not show low-impact alternatives. If you’re heavier, you aren’t ready for jumping and knee-jarring moves. I’m not saying that you can’t workout at home if you’re just starting out. I’m saying it will be more of a challenge finding apps and videos that work for beginners. The variety is just not there. (but please correct me if I’m wrong)
  3. You need accountability. If you wake up with a laundry list of reasons why you can’t fit in a 15 minute workout (cough*bull*shit*cough), then you could stand hiring a personal trainer. Knowing you have an appointment with someone charging you between $40-$80 an hour is a pretty good motivator to get your butt out of bed. The knowledge you gain will enable you to drop that gym membership and do it on your own later. But I digress. Personal trainers dote all over you. They take fat measurements. The access your flexibility. They give you diet plans and stroke egos.  They are good people. And they will keep you on track!
  4. You’re training for a specific event. This one’s a no-brainer because I am probably preaching to the choir. Clearly, if you’re doing a Tough Mudder, you more than likely need more than YouTube. A few years ago, I considered myself a runner, and the only way I could get myself to go faster and longer was to join a running group. I pushed myself way harder than I would’ve on my own.
  5. You’re just one of those people that like working out with other people. I am not one of them. I like nothing more than being able to pull up an app, crank up Pandora and strap on my running shoes to get the sweat going. I also like being able to immediately kick them off without having to drive home first. But I’ve discovered that there are those out there who really enjoy the social aspect of classes at gyms. And if that’s you, go for it! It’ll help build that foundation of exercise knowledge and scratch that social itch.

I confess. I’ve been able to chunk the gym because I have been at 1-5 at various points in my life. But now I simply need to move. Everyday. And my iPad fits in nicely. For those that need the extra push, I whole-heartedly say spend the money! (and then come back here just because you like me. : ) )

Creating a Method to the Madness

I want to inspire people.

I believe that it’s good to have role models, and I love being around others who are awesome at what they do. Their passion rubs off on me and keeps me going. Hopefully, this blog will inspire you to get moving, stay moving or will inspire you as an athlete to add home workouts to your routine. It’s my goal to prove that it really doesn’t take a pile of money to get & stay strong and healthy. But it does take determination, self-motivation and a plan.

Up to this point, I haven’t really thought much about how I plan my workouts. It’s usually done by what looks good enough to suffer through or how I feel that morning. I realize, though, that I need to schedule my video selections so that I work every part of my body at least once each week. I also need to sprinkle in some yoga & pilates.

Each YouTube or iPad App workout will now fit into this rotation:

  1. Cardio Workout – 20-60 minutes – kickboxing, low or high impact aerobics, tabatas, HIT training – The I want to die… give it all you’ve got, Captain type of workouts.
  2. Upper Body – plus a 10 minute quick cardio session
  3. Abs and Cardio
  4. Lower Body - plus a 10 minute quick cardio session
  5. Total Body Sculpt and Tone with or without cardio
  6. Pilates or Yoga

Repeat … Repeat… and Repeat…

I think that this should add some methodology to the Get Fit with iPad madness and will allow me (and you!) to get fitter, quicker because the routine changes everyday. I can’t guarantee that though, so don’t come after me with knives and pitch forks (or bad reviews and comments) if it doesn’t work.

On the note of inspiration, what does inspire you to keep going when the waters get rough? What makes you just keep swimming?

Review: 10-Minute Workout For Tank Top Arms

10 Minute Tank Top Arms

Oh. My. God. Sweet Mother of all that is Holy. This one was super-de-duper tough, and I will be back. Oh, yes. I will. But with lighter weights next time.

Today’s video, 10 Minute Workout for Tank Top Arms, comes to you from POPSUGAR Fitness on YouTube. I have the sneaking suspicion that most of the viewers of this channel are about 15-20 years younger than I, have never given birth and weigh about 60 pounds less than I do. No, matter. I’m Irish. I’m a Black Belt. I have grit. And soon I will have Tank Top Arms. Whoop!

She recommends 3-8lb weights for this workout. If you are just starting out, go for the 3lb weights. Seriously. I’m not kidding. These exercises are not your average, run-of-the-mill bicep curls. I only have 8lb and 10lb weights, and I will be going today to grab some fivers because I had to modify half the workout. I hate modifying. I’m an over-achiever, remember? If you’re an intermediate, use the 5lbs weights. She does this one exercise where you have a weight in each hand. Raise them up to your shoulder level, extend your arms straight out to your sides like your body is making the letter T and hold it for one minute – stationary. ooouuucchhh! I was shaking so bad from the get-go that I had to modify it by bending at the elbows so that my arms made a box shoulder-level in front of me.

She also puts in some lovely tricep push-ups (always a favorite), some floor tricep exercises and other assorted shoulder & bicep moves from hell. And she does it all while telling me that when my brain tells me to stop, to shut it off and keep going because “I am far more capable than I think.” No, lady… my brain is telling me that my muscles are ripping away from the bone, and I’m going to die soon if I don’t drop this weight. I’m tough, though. I hung in there. A lighter set of weights will make this a much more doable workout.

There’s no annoying music, and outside of the way-to-peppy 20-somethings, and the fact that this workout was way harder than I anticipated, it was quite an awesome one that tones the biceps, triceps and shoulders. I give it a 3.5 dumbbells on a 5 dumbbell scale.

Got 10 minutes to cuss like a sailor (because you will be expressing yourself through this workout)? Go try it and let me know if you share my views!

Review: eFit30 Total Body Workout 4

eFit 30 Total Body Workout 4

Being the overachiever that I am, I skipped Workouts 1, 2 and 3 and went straight to Workout 4. Nah… Not really. I just didn’t see the others when I selected this one at 11pm last night. I’ll go back and do them, though. This one was great!

Wanna give it a go? Try it here: eFit30 Total Body Workout 4, Cardio, sculpt and tone

eFit30 is a fantastic source of free workouts on YouTube. I highly suggest you subscribe to their channel. The 2 workout leaders are British. or Australian. I can’t tell… forgive me… and the accent made me pay attention with greater detail so that I didn’t miss anything. This particular workout took me through a 5 minute warm-up that was intense enough to make me think they decided to skip the warm-up. We then launched into the cardio portion complete with traveling push-ups, knee-ups with a lunge, star jumpers (what they call jumping jacks – but with a squat) and mountain climbers to the elbows. There’s 3 rounds of these pleasurable past-times, and the reps increase with each rotation of exercises. I was very glad when it was over.

From there, we moved into a very tough ab workout. Side planks are really hard for me. Like really hard. I had to drop down to the modified version, but I will do this video again and again until I can do the reps as they do them. Dang it. This took us through about 21 minutes. The last 6 minutes or so were filled with post-workout stretches.

Let’s talk about stretching for a moment. I know that when the workout is finished the temptation is to turn off the iPad, or leave your workout class, or hop off the treadmill and leave the gym. Don’t. Seriously. Your muscles are nice and ooey, gooey warm. It’s the perfect time to stretch, and that will, in turn, increase your flexibility and helps to work out the lactic acid that builds during exercise. You don’t really wanna be sore, do you? Then stretch.

I liked this video and look forward to more from eFit30. I hereby honor this video with a 4 dumbbell rating on a scale of 5. Try it out. And stay for the stretches.

Review: Butt Workout Cardio 1: Bootcamp

Butt Workout Cardio 1

Today’s workout is brought to you by the letter “B”… as in Butt and BeFit. This one is short and sweet, and quite frankly, I needed short and sweet today. After yesterday’s Jillian Michaels workout, an arm workout, swimming with my kids at Deep Eddy and TKD class, I woke up feeling quite unmotivated to even get out of bed today.

Want to try it out? Head to Butt Workout Cardio 1: Bootcamp – 30 Day Butt Lift

Topping off at 11 minutes, Alicia Marie gets right into it with old school side steps. She progresses into knee ups, butt kicks, “kung fu” kicks, squat jumps and other jumpy, leg-intensive maneuvers. Color me impressed. By the end of the 10 minutes I had a good sweat going and felt like I had actually done something, where, if it weren’t for this blog, I probably would’ve done nothing. The instructor was positive without being over the top, does the exercises from the front and from the side and demonstrates each exercise before the 30 second interval begins. I hereby give this a dumbbell rating of 4.5 on a 5 dumbbell scale.

You’ll probably see a lot more reviews of videos from the BeFit series. I subscribed to the BeFit channel on YouTube, and they claim there’s a new workout everyday. I like the variety that I’m seeing! Give this 10 minute workout a whirl, and let me know what you think. Pretty please?

Jillian Michaels Cardio Kickbox

Jillian Michaels Cardio Kickbox

What is it with workout videos and 1970s bow-chica-bow-bow music? With all the fabulous dance cardio tracks out there, why choose something that reminds me of when Debby Does Dallas was all the rage? Brings me back to my borrowed and treasured copy of Judy Blume’s Forever… But I digress…  I’m sure with the money from Jillian’s vast athletic empire she could whip up a good musical soundtrack, but then I thought that maybe, just maybe, she secretly loves 1970s bow-chica-bow-bow music and wants to subliminally implant its rhythmic beat into our brains.

Once I got over the horrid soundtrack, I dove into the workout. She’ll make you sweat while she fusses and hollers back at her workout companions for slacking. She’s a big fan of jumping jacks and jump ropes though, and given my busty and wiggly state, I don’t share her passion. At some point though, I’m hoping there won’t be as much skin flopping. That’s why I’m here, right? She does every exercise in either a count of 10 or a count of 30. I never felt that I was just going to give out like I did during the CafeMom’s Cardio Workout. I adore standing abdominal exercises, and she definitely brought it with this workout. At the end, one of her workout minions sarcastically remarks, “That’s it?” and Jillian barks to everyone to do another 30 second round of jumping jacks, jump ropes and 10 push-ups. What?! So I get punished for Miss Mouthy back there? Oh, wait. This is a video. I can tell Jillian to stick it and hit pause! But no, I suffered like the rest of them and bounced my way to completion.

It does have its drawbacks. Again, my martial arts training raises my hypersensitivity to the way these instructors do their kicks. Kickboxing videos should not assume that people know how to do these moves and just launch into them. If the instructors do want to forge ahead, they should have some disclaimer that states that the video is for intermediate and advanced viewers and is for an audience that understands kickboxing basics. Also, Jillian wimped out on moves with the upper body. Yeah, we did a bunch of punches, but they really weren’t a big roo-ha-ha, and the uppercut segment thrown in at the end seemed more like an afterthought.

Because of Jillian’s poor choice in background music, her signature militant attitude and lack of upper body segments, I give this video a rating of 2.5 dumbbells on a scale of 5.

Willing to subject yourself to Jillian’s masterpiece? Come on back here and let me know what you think!

5 Reasons I Like to Work Out

5) I really like the feel of sweat running down my back. Even more, I like the shower that follows.

4) You never know what you’re gonna get with each video. Plus, I get to make fun of the workout leader later ;)

3) My shorts are looser around my waist.

2) I can mark it off as a job well done on my calendar.

1) I’m working off my sins the good old fashioned (but effective!) way – with diet and exercise. Plus, it allows me to keep sinning. Always a bonus!

30-Minute Cardio – The CafeMom Studios Workout

The CafeMom Studios WorkoutI subscribed to the CafeMoms Studios channel on YouTube because I wanted to do more videos like this one. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be a fitness channel. There are videos about “Being a better Mom from Prison” and “Real Housewife Kim Zolciak Pregnant with Baby #5!” Yeah. I’m not even sure where the fitness videos are on this channel. So, if you want to try out this video, go here:

The CafeMom Studios Workout

Did I work up a sweat? Yes. Did I feel like dying and say the “F-word” often throughout the course of the workout? Yes. The title is misleading. 30 minutes, it is not. More like 20 minutes of cardio with 6 minutes of stretching and over a minute’s worth of blah blah blah from the fitness instructor. It’s filled with ultra-fun exercises that make me giddy all over – like mountain climbers, burpees, jumping jacks and jump ropes. There’s even a short kickboxing section… if you want to call it that. She throws out a few jabs and crosses that allowed me to catch my breath for a second.

My martial arts background makes me extra critical of kickboxing videos and segments. Mostly because you can really, really hurt your knees if you do these kicks improperly, and poor Chana Balk, the instructor of this video, does a terrible job of describing how to do this kick. She says to lead with your heal and the proceeds to point her toes to the sky. I think she was trying to do a round kick. I’m really not sure. She never gave her kick a name. The most important thing to remember about any kick that goes out from the side of your body – whether it is a side kick or a roundhouse kick – is to pivot the foot of your standing leg in the opposite direction of your kick. This saves you from torquing your knee in a funky direction.

All in all, I’d give it a rating of 3 dumbbells on a 5 dumbbell scale. It was a descent 20 minute workout with a good stretching segment at the end. Willing to sweat it out to this one? Come on back here afterwards, and let me know what you think!